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Author Topic: Why Gates Foundation is Funding the UK’s Medicines Regulator?  (Read 446 times)

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Why Gates Foundation is Funding the UK’s Medicines Regulator?
« on: September 01, 2021, 12:47:14 AM »
Why Is the Gates Foundation Funding the UK’s Medicines Regulator?

On August 13, the UK government published a response to a freedom of information request in relation to the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) — the UK’s equivalent of the FDA. The question it was in response to enquired as to whether or not the agency had received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The answer was yes:

We do receive funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as other sources outside government such as WHO. This funding mainly supports work to strengthen regulatory systems in other countries…

The current level of grant funding received from the Gates Foundation amounts to approximately $3 million. This covers a number of projects and the funding is spread across 3-4 financial years. We are an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care.

The story didn’t attract much attention at the time. In fact, not a single newspaper or broadcaster even bothered to cover it, perhaps because there didn’t see much in it. After all, $3 million (with an “m”) is not even that much money these days. And the Gates Foundation (GF) is a charitable organization — the biggest of its kind, with roughly $60 billion in assets — so what could possibly be wrong with it granting funds to an organization in charge of deciding which pharmaceutical products and medical devices reach the market and which don’t? Well, quite a lot, actually.

Blatant Conflict of Interest

Firstly, $3 million may not be a lot of money to the GF but it’s still a substantial sum to the cash-strapped MHRA. Secondly, the Gates Foundation’s roughly $60 billion in assets include, among other things, shares and other forms of investments in some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, whose products the MHRA has to regulate on a regular basis. Those companies include Sanofi, Merck, Eli Lilly and Company and Abbott Laboratories, all of which have developed or are developing covid-19 treatments and/or vaccines that are yet to receive authorisation in the UK. They also include Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, which together have developed and marketed the most profitable vaccine in history.

This is a blatant conflict of interest. It’s also worth noting that the MHRA’s former CEO, Ian Hudson, now works as a senior advisor at the GF.

When it comes to global healthcare, the GF is anything but a disinterested third party. Its co-founder, Bill Gates, is as committed as ever to intellectual property rights. In January we learned that Gates had played a key role in convincing Oxford University to drop a prior commitment to donate the rights to its vaccine to any global drug maker. The idea was was to provide the vaccine to poorer countries at a low cost or even free of charge. But Gates persuaded the British university to sign a vaccine deal with AstraZeneca instead that gave the pharmaceutical behemoth exclusive rights and no guarantee of low prices.

We have also learnt that Gates was instrumental in blocking attempts by a coalition of countries led by South Africa and India to bring a patent waiver proposal to the World Trade Organization’s TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Council. A waiver would allow poorer countries to produce the vaccines themselves. And that would massively accelerate global take-up of vaccines, which could help in the global fight against Covid. But Gates argued that poor countries were not prepared to scale up manufacturing. A waiver would also eliminate incentives for future research, he said. His argument won the day and even today the TRIPS waiver is still under discussion at the WTO, going nowhere slowly.

In an article for Wired magazine Mohit Mookim, a former researcher at the Stanford Center for Ethics in Society, asks whether we should be surprised that a monopolist-turned-philanthropist maintains his commitment to monopoly patent rights as a philanthropist too?

Read the whole article here:
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